NFL Draft: Bijan Robinson joins the fantasy football party as an immediate first-round pick
Bijan Robinson, the top running back in the 2023 NFL Draft class and one of the best prospects at the position in recent memory, is headed to the Atlanta Falcons, the most run-committed team in the league. This is a nightmare scenario for defensive players in the NFC South. It might be a questionable pick in reality, but it's a near-perfect landing spot in fantasy.
Let's just hit the obvious spin right here at the top: Robinson is an easy first-round selection in any fantasy format and he's the clear RB1 in dynasty.
Some of you are going to harumph and finger-wag, warning the rest of us about uncertainty associated with first-year running backs. But if that's your stance on Robinson, you are gonna be spectacularly wrong, because this is nothing like Clyde Edwards-Helaire in 2020 or Bishop Sankey in 2014.
Instead, this is Saquon Barkley in 2018.
This is Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
This is Adrian Peterson in 2007.
This is LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001.
Fantasy wise, it's a seismic event. Robinson arrives in the league with rare rushing traits and an impeccable track record at the collegiate level. If he remains healthy, he's an immediate star — an All Pro, a threat to win rushing titles. Possibly next year's consensus top fantasy pick.
In Robinson's final season at Texas, he averaged 6.1 yards per carry and an absurd 16.5 yards per catch, gaining 1,894 scrimmage yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. The year before it was 1,422 yards and 15 scores. And still, the numbers don't really paint the picture.
Here's the sort of stuff he was doing as a college back, facing nationally relevant opponents:
Yeah, Bijan Robinson is GOOD 😱
(via @CBSSports) pic.twitter.com/8VsxATg3b3
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 9, 2021
That run was a murder scene.
Robinson also enters the league as one of its premier receiving backs:
Texas leads ISU 14-7 at the break.
Bijan Robinson: 89 total yards on 15 touches - including this catch that has RG3 offering perspective:
"He's not just a runner of the football! How many RBs do you know in the NFL that can make that catch.. I can't name one."#HookEm 📺: ABC pic.twitter.com/i49hs4knX4
— Dennis de la Pena (@dennisonfox7) October 15, 2022
Basically, he's without glaring weaknesses and his strengths are absolutely outrageous. This isn't just another random back stepping into a good situation. Robinson is an uncommon talent stepping into one of the best possible situations. Under head coach Arthur Smith, the Falcons ran the ball a league-leading 559 times last season behind an excellent run-blocking line. Robinson has prototypical size, vision, remarkable receiving ability and unrivaled footwork. Running back prospects don't get much better.
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In another era, Robinson would have been the no-doubt top pick in the draft. In the current era, he's no less thrilling as a player, but his position has been (rightly) devalued by a league that's reconsidered the relative importance of full-workload featured backs and of the run game generally. After all, the Chiefs just won another Super Bowl with, essentially, a ZeroRB backfield.
So if a team is going to spend a first-round pick on a non-premium position like running back in today's league, they need to view the player as transcendent — a foundational offensive weapon deserving significant touches both as a rusher and receiver. That's Robinson. Any fantasy plans you previously had for Tyler Allgeier have been canceled, because Bijan is definitely getting all the work he can handle in 2023.